Dr. Arianna Dagnino is a researcher, writer, and socio-cultural analyst. She holds a M.A. in Modern Foreign Languages and Literatures from l'Università degli Studi di Genova and a Ph.D. in Sociology and Comparative Literature from the University of South Australia. She currently teaches at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. Global cities such as Vancouver, London, Berlin or Sydney currently face two major problems: house affordability and the risk of highly fragmented societies across cultural lines. In her talk, Dr. Dagnino argues that one of the possible solutions to address the negative aspects of economic globalization and the disruptive effects of mass-migrations is to envisage a new kind of housing complex - the transcultural caravanserai.
January 27, 2016 at 7:00pm
Vancouver Public Library - Alma VanDusen Room - (350 W. Georgia St., Vancouver, B.C.)
Re-imagine?? Yes. Envisage a new kind of housing complex – the transcultural caravanserai. “Can we conceive urban spaces and buildings in a way that may help us to at least partially deal with the challenges our societies are facing in the wake of massive migratory flows? Is there a way to use physical space to promote inclusion – of new people and new cultures – instead of sanctioning separation and juxtaposition?” These were some of the questions UBC’s Dr. Arianna Dagnino* addressed in her speech “Global Nomads, Modern Caravanserais and Neighbourhood Commons.” The talk was delivered on Wed. Jan 27, 2016 at an event co-hosted by ARPICO (Society of Italian Researchers & Professionals in Western Canada) and THE DANTE ALIGHIERI SOCIETY OF BC. The venue was the Alma VanDusen Conference Room in Library Square and it was packed to capacity with over 60 curious and engaged listeners. In her presentation, Dr. Dagnino – an academic researcher, writer, and socio-cultural analyst – floated the idea that we might look at the past to find inspiration for solutions to the disruptive effects of mass-migrations on urban centres and societies. At the core of Dagnino’s vision are the caravanserais – the road inns that were to be found along the trade routes of late antiquity. Those poly-functional hubs, in which locals and foreigners, sedentary people and travelling nomads could meet and mix, fostered a continuous exchange not just of material goods but also of spiritual and cultural values, allowing the contact between people to become enriching and mutually beneficial. This spirit, Dr. Dagnino has argued, must be restored in our 21st century societies – marred on the one hand by consumerism and on the other by fear of the ‘Other’. It may well be the time for architects and urban planners, the speaker concluded, to re-evaluate and re-imagine the idea of the caravanserai when conceiving the places where we have to live, perform and meet. The gauntlet launched to the audience by Dr. Dagnino prompted a lively debate and even raised the interest of a planner from the Vancouver area who declared that this way of thinking about the design of physical spaces would be a positive contribution to the planning profession and should be shared with other planners. Debate could not end there – it continued well into the networking/refreshments segment to everyone’s delight.